One of the most respected Cuvees in Champagne, the Cuvee Rare from Piper-Heidsieck is a sensational bottle. We have a few magnums of the 1998 vintage, which are late-release bottles from the property but not recently disgorged; however, they are in excellent condition and are showing so beautifully. Originally a tribute to Marie Antoinette, Cuvee Rare is only made in the best vintages and, because of that, has only seen ten iterations, with the first being the '76 vintage. These wines ultimately come down to one man's expertise, Cellar Master Regis Camus. Regis is a brilliant and passionate winemaker and was awarded Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 8 times by the International Wine Challenge.
Regis designs these wines to be ageless, and they miraculously keep improving with time. Always an example of elegance, purity, and freshness, with profound minerality and subtle intricacies. Regis sources the fruit from the Montagne de Reims for both the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, which is uncommon, but Regis enjoys the freshness of the Chardonnay from that part of the region, though the exact blend is a secret. 1998 is a testament to the age-ability of these Champagnes and was only bottled in Magnum, a brilliant choice by Regis, who most certainly was looking towards the future. We have had the opportunity to try this Champagne many times, even once at Piper-Heidsieck during an extensive tour. It is one of our favorite bottles to date, though choosing a clear best is incredibly difficult as these are always excellent Champagnes. We have a limited amount here that will arrive in two weeks, and it would be an ideal gift or bottle to open during this holiday season or for those that love excellent big bottle Champagne.
Wine Spectator 98 points! "A beautifully bright and expressive Champagne, with precision and vivid acidity throughout; roasted coffee bean and graphite notes lead to a rich palate of toasted brioche, crystallized honey, bergamot and crème de cassis. Exotic ground spice details of cardamom, ginger and anise show on the finish. Tasted from magnum. Drink now through 2030. 15 cases imported."
Decanter 97 points! "The 1998 Rare was only made in magnum. Although the key word is ‘radiant’, when cellar master Régis Camus describes it as a perfectly mannered English gentleman he is maybe closer to the mark, notwithstanding the wine’s undoubted radiance. There is something inordinately refined and civilised here: spice and blossom, apricot and smoke, an encyclopedic gamut of flavour beyond the apparently youthful, nacreous colour. The tropical fruit leitmotif is present, of course, but there is so much more besides and so much more to come. A truly wonderful wine - English gentlemen really do have a lot to live up to!"
John Gilman 94 points! "I really like the style and shape of the racy 1998 Rare, which is still quite youthful in profile and needs more time to fully blossom (particularly in magnum). The superb bouquet offers up a primary blend of quince, lemon, stony minerality, a touch of fresh almond, citrus peel, smoky notes and blossoming spice tones that are quite prevalent in older vintages of Rare. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, pure and racy, with its minerality far more front and center in this vintage than in the 2002 or 1999, with a fine core, pinpoint bubbles, zesty acids and outstanding length and grip on the nascently complex and racy finish. This is a lovely wine which will only get better with further bottle age, and I would be inclined to leave it sleeping in the cellar for several more years."